State of Ohio plans to restore confidence to fairgoers with new committee

The state of Ohio hopes to restore faith in amusement rides after the Fire Ball tragedy.

The state of Ohio hopes to restore faith in amusement rides after the Fire Ball tragedy.

The Ohio Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety decided during a meeting Thursday morning their mission will be a campaign to rebuild confidence in fair rides across the state.

ABC 6 On Your Side has been pressing the state on ride safety ever since that fateful night almost six months ago at the Ohio State Fair.

“Do you feel it might be viewed as a public relations spin or is there really going to be action to make rides safer? No, I think they should have full confidence there will be action,” said Luis Perz with the Ohio State Fair.

Perez is also a member of the Ohio Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety.

“I think it’s important that we do everything we can to make this whole process as transparent as possible and to restore the confidence in the public,” said Perez.

Newly elected vice chair, Bill Prowant, came out of the gate at the meeting with wanting a committee formed now to look at how to proceed with ride inspections and bring back public confidence after the Fire Ball tragedy.

“The season is approaching very fast and right now the public, what’s the word perception, we’ve got issues,” said Prowant.

Tyler Jarrell died when he was thrown from the Fire Ball after a part broke off. Seven others were hurt.

The board did not discuss last summer’s Ohio State Fair opening day tragedy, saying they’ve already released their findings.

But ride manufacturers did take action and formed their own committee to figure out how to prevent another deadly malfunction.

“When you have an amusement ride beginning with 5 years of age we’re asking that everyone as owners of all rides and models begin this type of inspection,” said Mike Gill with A.R.M. Manufacturing.

ABC 6 On Your Side visited Ohio-based A.R.M. Manufacturing last fall after owner, Eric Bates, lashed out at the ride safety board claiming inspectors do not have proper paperwork from manufacturers.

We requested similar records from the state and keep getting excuses. It’s a far cry from what Governor John Kasich promised the night the Fire Ball came apart.

“We will get to the bottom of this, we will investigate, there will be complete transparency,” said Gov. Kasich last July.

ABC 6 On Your Side put in a records request in early November.

“Again, it’s thousands of emails and inspection reports that are kept on paper. We’ve had to gather on paper and put in format to be reviewed and shared with you so transparency continues to be a priority of the department,” said Mark Bruce, Department of Agriculture Spokesman.

Bruce says the board will send its recommendation on developing a committee and who would be on it to the agriculture department director for review.

The board will consist of board members and people in the ride industry.

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